Super Mario Maker 2 is here and the game arrives on Nintendo Switch building on a great first outing on Nintendo Wii U.
This time Nintendo have added a story mode, local and online multiplayer elements and the classic level editing abilities which is the central feature of any Super Mario Maker game. There were questions before the game released if the Nintendo Switch would be suitable (given the other systems had stylus inputs), however, Nintendo has improved the tooling for Super Mario Maker and making levels is as fun (and addicting) as ever.
The story mode in Super Mario Maker offers up levels created by Nintendo which act as a nice introduction to new players as well as a showcase of the new features that have been added into the game in the sequel. The story is light – Mario and a bunch of Toads have to rebuild Princess Peach’s castle as it’s fallen down. What follows is a showcase of levels ranging in difficulty which perfectly show off the range and give players ideas for levels of their own. The story mode is great fun and should be where any new player starts.
Making is what Super Mario Maker is all about and from the very first moments, you can jump right in and start making with the rich set of tools on offer. With the Wii U, you could sit back and use the gamepad to design courses on screen. The Switch handles this a little differently, however, if you do want to use a stylus then the Switch will support that. Nintendo has introduced item wheels to accommodate the controller input, however, course creation is probably best done with the touch controls. It all may feel a little overwhelming at the start with the menus, items and options. Nintendo tried to help out here with Yamamura’s Dojo. Yamamura is a pigeon (a semi-retired homing pigeon none the less) and the tutorials range from beginner, intermediate and advanced. Yamamura teaches you the basics through the series of tutorials and it’s advised to at least check out the beginner guides before wading into creation.
There’s plenty of new features added into Super Mario Maker 2. Slopes, angry suns, on/off switches, seesaws, swinging hooks, dry bones shell and customised scrolling mechanics. There’s rising and falling water and lava levels and also clear conditions. For example, try and clear a whole level without jumping. Super Mario 3D World makes its debut in the game as a new design mode which also includes Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 3, Super Mario World, New Super Maio Bros. Fans were hoping more styles would be added but at the moment it seems like this is it. Super Mario 3D world is under a section called ‘Extra themes’, which led fans to believe there would be more themes available. This is likely to be DLC later down the line and here’s hoping for Super Mario Bros 2, a legendary Super Mario game. This makes sense as the 3D world has extra mechanics not used in other Marios as does Super Mario Bros 2. Fingers crossed for the future!
As well as the plethora of game styles there’s also an alternative day/night modes which affect the levels in different ways. Underground for example in night mode turns the whole level upside down and mixes things up in terms of puzzling. Also included here are snow, desert and forest – all with their tricky additions making you’re clear of the Super Mario Maker level all that much harder. Vertical levels have been added as well as customisable scrolling up and down (as well as left and right). There are enough additions here to warrant the number 2 after the title as you can create levels that were impossible in the original Super Mario Maker.
Super Mario 3D World is the new ‘theme’ added to the design palette for the game. It works slightly differently to other Mario titles and therefore sits outside the main mechanics of the other games. For example, when you create a level you can seamlessly switch between the other game designs of Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3, Super Mario World etc. Super Mario 3D world has a number of features which aren’t in those other games, and therefore is somewhat of an outlier. Levels have to be created specifically with this mode in mind. Mario has extra abilities like a charge jump and long jump as well as the cat abilities like climbing up walls and air diving. Enemies are somewhat different too with Bullet Bills flying in from the background affecting the main course ala Turtles in Time from the arcades/SNES.
Online the game really excels. You have to have a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online to access the modes, however, it feels like a worthwhile investment which basically means an infinite amount of Super Mario Levels to keep you entertained. Once you have created a level, playtested it and feel happy to release it to the world then you can upload it to the cloud and have other players all around the world try out your level. Once it’s gone out there into the world you get a code for the level which you can then share with your friends or online via social media to get it played by the masses. Players can leave notes and feedback on your levels too. Gone is 100 Man Mario, where you had 100 lives to get through as many levels as you could. This has been replaced by Endless Challenge mode, where you can take on as many levels as you can. However, you can skip levels with no penalty at the moment, which does seem like an odd decision. Course World (Super Mario Makers online arena) allows players to search courses by difficulty, location, genre and popularity.
Local multiplayer for up to four players look great fun. I haven’t had the chance to test this out yet, but with up to four Marios on the screen, it looks chaotic fun. Hopefully, Nintendo will add a more thorough online multiplayer to Super Mario Maker 2 in the near future and hopefully we could have 4 players or more battling it out on levels altogether. In 2019 battle royale are all the rage, and mixing up the multiplayer battle elements with a Mario game seems a no brainer. Nintendo in fact recently told an independent developer to take down their Super Mario Battle Royale, showing there is an appetite out there. One can only imagine what it would be like if Nintendo threw their creativity behind such a design. But for now, we’re going to have to wait and see.
One thing that I was surprised by was how quickly the game grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. The first day I got it I simply couldn’t put it down. I raced through the story mode, studied the creation tools and made some simple levels and then dove into online play. When I wasn’t playing Super Mario Maker 2 I was thinking about it. What would my next level look like? How could I recreate the Kaizo levels I’ve learned to love watching on Twitch and YouTube? Will people like my levels? SO MANY QUESTIONS…
Above all else, I’ve fallen in love with Super Mario Maker 2. I came to the world of Super Mario Maker late in the lifecycle of the Wii U and enjoyed playing that, however it did have some drawbacks. Super Mario Maker 2 improves on its first game in almost every way with great tools, new features with online and local play to add to the mix. It feels like Nintendo have added the polish to an already fine looking pair of shoes. I can only recommend this game to anyone who’s ever enjoyed Mario games or wondered what it would be like to design their own Mario game.